UEFA Grassroots Day took the form of a grassroots football week in Belarus as more than 100,000 amateur players participated in activities throughout the country.
Conceived of as a celebration of the game's healthy base, involving all of UEFA's member national associations, the first-ever UEFA Grassroots Day on Wednesday 19 May captured the imagination in Belarus. Between 17 and 23 May, over 9,000 teams, featuring players of all ages, took part in events across more than 3,000 pitches. In addition, the local grassroots cause received a major boost as 11 artificial turf mini-pitches built with the assistance of the UEFA HatTrick programme were opened in six regions and the capital, Minsk.
A principal UEFA Grassroots Day initiative undertaken by the Football Federation of Belarus (BFF) was the appointment of grassroots ambassadors, including former players, politicians, the BFF president Henadz Niavyhlas, national team coach Bernd Stange and his assistant Harald Irmscher. The ambassadors visited all six regions – Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Mogiliov and Minsk – as well as the capital, giving coaching masterclasses, overseeing training sessions, touring amateur clubs and simply playing the game. The high-profile guests enjoyed a particularly warm welcome in the smaller towns on their itinerary.
Over 2,500 footballs and 2,000 pieces of sports equipment were given out to children during the week, while the winners of various regional competitions received special certificates among other items. Belarusian grassroots efforts were also officially endorsed in the 2010 UEFA Grassroots Awards as the prize for best grassroots club went to the local team Amatar.
The grassroots celebrations came to a climax with the staging of the Belarusian Cup final in Minsk on 23 May: a 5-0 victory for FC BATE Borisov against FC Torpedo Zhodino. There was also the promise of future grassroots football weeks from BFF president Henadz Niavyhlas, who thanked the regional authorities and the ministries of sport and education for their help in making a success of this initial undertaking.
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